How Vancouver police can improve their relationships with Indigenous communities

Norm Leech
Norm Leech, executive director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society - Photo VACPC
Laurence Gatinel - CFRO - VancouverBC | 27-08-2020
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By Tan Mei Xi

Police forces across the world and their relationships with the communities they serve are now being scrutinized, but Indigenous communities in Vancouver have spent years negotiating their relationship with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).

For the urban Indigneous community in Vancouver, that work involves speaking with new VPD recruits, working with Mayor and council, and engaging deeply with the VPD’s management team.

“[The relationship between the VPD and Indigenous communities] has been worse, especially in the aftermath of the Robert Pickton trial and the inquiry that followed that,” says Norm Leech, executive director at the Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centre Society.

“The VPD really was called on the carpet from that report and that process, and they’ve made some significant progress," Leech added. "We have a really good relationship with Chief Palmer and his management team and, for the large part, with officers on the street.”

However, Leech is clear that systemic racism is still integral in the policing system and that police forces were not created by or for Indigenous peoples.

“Whoever writes the law tends to write it in a way that benefits them,” Leech added.